Commentary: New GI Bill repays some of our debt to veterans

Amid the agonizing realities of war — death and maiming; horrible emotional and psychological scars; severe hardships on families and loved ones — a nation is compelled to grapple with ways in which it can repay its debt to those who have sacrificed so much toward protecting their fellow citizens and preserving our precious democratic republic.

"The contributions that our servicemen and women can make to this nation do not end when they take off that uniform," President Barack Obama said Monday in announcing the launch of a new comprehensive GI Bill. "We owe a debt to all who serve. And when we repay that debt to those bravest Americans among us, then we are investing in our future — not just their future, but the future of the country."

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt understood that when creating the first GI Bill, under which almost 8 million Americans were educated. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of doctors, scientists, engineers and nurses who benefited under the legislation, Obama noted that the bill helped prepare "three presidents, three Supreme Court justices, 14 Nobel Prize winners and two dozen Pulitzer Prize winners."

The latest legislation, co-sponsored by Obama when he was in the Senate, is known as the post-9-11 GI Bill and goes farther than any similar measure that preceded it.

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